In our society, we have become accustomed to cheering for the underdog. And yet, in the business world, where women entrepreneurs are often labeled as underdogs, we don’t seem to be as supportive. In my opinion, women, in any arena, are not the epitome of underdogs in any way, shape or form.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an underdog is “a loser or predicted loser in a struggle or contest.” That does not define any women entrepreneurs that I know! They are fighters, go-getters, trail blazers and winners. There is no room for any part of that definition in their world.
Survival of the Fittest
Do women struggle to start businesses? Sure they do, but so do men. It’s the way of the competitive business environment. Some will make it, others will throw in the towel. But anyone who personifies the term “underdog,” has no business playing in the entrepreneurial arena, unless they are cruising for a bruising. Competing in business can be a dog fight, after all.
No one wants to be seen as the underdog, a.k.a. potential loser, anymore than we want to think of ourselves in such a defeating way. But there is a time and place in business when we all “wear” that term, without becoming it — when we start, when we create, when we grow. Those are the vulnerable times, when we put ourselves, our ideas, our dreams on the line, and fight to succeed. It is a rite of passage for the entrepreneur.
You must walk before you can run…
No matter how successful you become, you can always fail. But there’s a difference between being in an underdog scenario, and believing or allowing others to perceive you as an underdog. We can be temporary underdogs, not by opening ourselves up to lose, but by simply taking the risk to win.
I became a “transient underdog” the day I decided to put everything on the line to make my business dreams a reality. I was a little fish in a pond full of bigger fish, but never allowed myself to believe I couldn’t be a big fish too. Though I started as a smart-working newbie in my niche, time, experience and perseverance led me to a position of expert, mentor and leader.
Wearing the badge of the underdog
But with the launch of a brand new program, I am testing new waters, and feel like I have donned the badge of the underdog once again. This is not for lack of confidence in what I have created, but because it is simply untested. It’s during this time that an entrepreneur must reach out to her trusted network of peers, fans, and clients for support of a new venture. Charlie Gilkey explains it so beautifully from his personal quest –
“…there is a manifest need to start revealing some of the things I’ve been sitting on for years. I’ve got some medicine to get out there and doing so will require some help – I can’t do it alone, but to enlist people’s help, they have to understand what it is and that it works. In the realm of entrepreneurship, we call this marketing and social proof.”
So the underdog in any new scenario bears the burden of marketing and garnering social proof for the “medicine” she wishes to share with the world. And that is right where I reside for the moment. But my status will change through the women, who not only have the courage to reach within themselves for something bigger, but who trust me enough to allow me to lead them on this journey.
I can proudly and confidently walk the path of the underdog in this adventure, but will shortly move beyond this stage until the next time I reach beyond my present circumstances for something bigger and brighter. This transition will come through the support of my growing network, and the deeper bonds we create each time we help each other grow. Whether for the first time or the fiftieth, the truth is that everyone has to start somewhere, and my somewhere is now. When it’s your turn to start somewhere, I hope you will invite me to walk beside you too.
© 2010 Reece International LLC/Dr. Shannon Reece. All rights reserved.
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Dr. Shannon Reece – The One Trusted Woman in a Man’s Business World
Starting your own business can be tough, but having the right tools makes all the difference. Dr. Reece provides the strategies and tactics women need to get their businesses from zero to launch and achieve real results. For more information visit www.DrShannonReece.com.